Fox News' Chris Wallace Defends Fauci, Rips 'Highly Political' GOP Attacks Over COVID Emails

Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace defended U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci from "highly political" GOP attacks, which have re-emerged in response to a recently revealed COVID-19 email trove.

Fauci's emails were published by The Washington Post and Buzzfeed this past week, revealing months of his internal pandemic concerns. Among the chief issues, Fauci offered support to a Chinese health official and responded to concerns that COVID-19 looked potentially "engineered" from within a laboratory. Rampant criticism emerged from GOP figures including Senator Marco Rubio and former President Donald Trump—with the former calling for Fauci to be ousted from his federal government post.

But Wallace on Friday told Fox News colleague John Roberts during a segment on the channel that Fauci has been a "devoted public servant for 40 years." The Fox News Sunday host echoed Fauci's own response that such attacks are more politically motivated than genuine concern, and said "there is no smoking gun" in the recently released emails despite all the criticism.

"This is highly political. ... You're seeing it as a major talking point for Republicans," Wallace said.

"We ought to take the politics out of this," he continued. "I think there certainly has been too much politics already."

"When Donald Trump — back when he was president — suggested that China may have played a role in it, that it wasn't a naturally occurring virus, I think there was a knee-jerk reaction from some Democrats, from some people in the media, to say, 'Well, if Trump says this is a possibility, it can't be a possibility,'" Wallace added Friday.

Trump, who long criticized Fauci's role as the federal government's chief immunologist during the pandemic, released a statement Friday that echoed such attacks once again.

"After seeing the emails, our Country is fortunate I didn't do what Dr. Fauci wanted me to do. For instance, I closed our Borders to China very early despite his not wanting them closed. The Democrats and the Fake News Media even called me a 'xenophobe,'" Trump said.

"In the end, we saw this was a life-saving decision, and likewise with closing our borders to Europe, specifically to certain heavily infected countries. I was later given credit, even by 'Tony,' for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Dr. Fauci also didn't put an emphasis on speed of vaccine production because he thought it would take 3, 4, or maybe even 5 years to create. I got it done in less than 9 months with Operation Warp Speed," the former president continued.

President Joe Biden also came to Fauci's defense this week, saying he remains confident in the longtime public health official.

Newsweek reached out to Fauci's office for comment.

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Chris Wallace, moderator of the first 2020 presidential debate, said Friday that Donald Trump did not arrive to the debate site in time on Tuesday to receive a coronavirus test. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty